The Integrated Database on Child and Family Services in Illinois
Breaking down data silos to improve policy and practice
As late as the 1980s, public human services administrators were not reliably able to know how many children and families they were serving, the condition of those children and families, or how the services provided were working.
To address this, researchers at Chapin Hall began to use the administrative data collected routinely by public agencies to paint a portrait of the families who came into contact with child-serving agencies. Partnering with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and other Illinois human services agencies, Chapin Hall researchers developed the Integrated Database on Child and Family Programs in Illinois, which incorporates and links data from multiple human service agencies.
This integrated data base has continued to grow, adding data from programs in nearly every child, adult, and family-serving agency in Illinois, Chicago and Cook County. It now includes data on programs in juvenile justice, K-12 education, special education, Temporary Aid for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and employment. Today, this integrated database offers a nuanced picture of the experiences of the state’s most vulnerable children and families.
The continued development of this database has led Chapin Hall to take advantage of innovations in data security and computational algorithms, the use of alternative data sources, and new data governance structures. Chapin Hall data scientists consult with others not only to improve our own practice, but also to disseminate our experience creating integrated data.
Among the work that has been completed using the integrated database to inform policies are Illinois Families and Their Use of Multiple Service Systems, Trauma Crossover Youth Project, and Career and Technical Education in Chicago Public Schools.